Advancing the work of pro bono practitioners in Hong Kong
02 August 2016
One of the most promising global developments in the field of law in recent years has been the growth of pro bono practice. Provision of legal services to those who cannot afford a lawyer helps expand access to justice and supports the humanitarian missions of communities that find themselves outside the umbrella of the protection of the rule of law. In the Asia-Pacific region in particular the potential for pro bono advice and representation as mechanisms to advance social change is enormous.
In tandem with the rise in awareness of the legal needs of non-profit organisations, in Hong Kong there is also a discernable trend towards skills-based volunteering. It is increasingly recognised that one-off donations alleviate only a small fraction of the complex issues faced by social groups. Lasting difference in the community requires provision of long-term support, tools and resources that empower these communities to drive positive change. One of the best ways to do that is by utilising one's unique skills and resources.
With over 6000 NGOs operating in the city, the LexisNexis Hong Kong office is not short on opportunities to organise and participate in philanthropic activities; indeed our annual record in this regard has always been impressive. One thing we noticed time and again however in our interactions with local charities and NGOs was their pressing need for professional legal assistance. As the flagship provider of legal resources in the region, we recognised there was an enormous opportunity to leverage off that wealth of experience and facilitate access to materials which would assist the pro bono community in taking up the charge to represent these clients.
In November 2015 our free solution, Lexis® Practical Guidance - Social Justice, made its debut. Modelled on our commercial product solution of the same name, the Social Justice online platform provides Practice Notes, Precedent documents, and checklists focused on issues such as human trafficking, gender and diversity in the workplace, and legal issues commonly encountered by charities in Hong Kong. It is a broad range of subjects, brought together by a common characteristic – they are issues which the legal community can impact.
In the human trafficking topic, information is provided on the theoretical and legal frameworks, its relevance to the private sector, the obligations of corporations and data protection for victims of trafficking, including a model personal information collection statement. The gender and diversity section covers nomination and diversity on Hong Kong boards, including local and overseas regulation and measures for listed companies to improve nomination process and board diversity. In the charities regulation topic, guidance on tax regulation and fundraising, and corporate governance for non-profit bodies is provided.
By providing free access to the unique platform of Lexis® Practical Guidance – Social Justice, we aim to support the legal community by facilitating their pro bono work, and to increase their efficiency and productivity when they do choose to volunteer their time. Practitioners and NGOs alike have already expressed keen interest in the potential for the module as a training tool.
Such immediate and positive feedback from our stakeholders has reinforced our belief that we can act as a catalyst for change in the way that the pro bono community works. By engaging and supporting their important role we are encouraged that this initiative can result in real social impact for Hong Kong.
If you would like to learn more about this service, or subscribe free today, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org quoting "Lexis Practical Guidance – Social Justice" or visit www.lexisnexis.com/ap/pg/socialjustice/home